No. 5 Baylor beats No. 19 USF 66-63 in preseason WNIT
WACO, Texas (AP) Niya Johnson was good all over the court for No. 5 Baylor.
The senior point guard had 10 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds, all while defending No. 19 South Florida's high-volume shooter as the Lady Bears held on for a 66-63 victory Thursday night to advance to the preseason WNIT championship game.
''If there's anything better in the country than that kid, I'd like to see it, because she flat-out guarded (Courtney) Williams. She hit the big free throw. She just makes us go,'' coach Kim Mulkey said about Johnson. ''She's tired, but she never lets fatigue be an excuse. I sure am glad I have her.''
While Williams had 23 points, she made only 10 of 29 shots. She missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied the game and forced overtime after grabbing an offensive rebound.
''It was pretty off-balance. I was just trying to make sure I was behind the 3-point line,'' Williams said of the final shot.
Nina Davis had 15 points while freshman post Kalani Brown scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in 10 minutes for Lady Bears (3-0). Kristina Higgins had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Baylor never trailed after an 11-0 run early in the game, but South Florida (2-1) got within a point twice in the fourth quarter and had the potential tying shot.
Laura Ferriera finished with 14 points for the Bulls, including two 3-pointers during a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that included seven points from Williams to get within 55-54 before Davis made two free throws.
Another jumper by Williams with 2 minutes left again got the Bulls within one, before Johnson made two free throws and Davis a layup.
''It came down to a one-possession game there, but it's very uncharacteristic of our team to miss as many wide-open shots as we did,'' South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. ''I think it was a very good basketball game between two teams early for the second week of the season.''
Ferriera's three-point play with 15 seconds left got South Florida within 65-63 fore Johnson made a free throw after being fouled on the inbound play. Even though the Bulls trailed by three, Ferreira drove for a layup attempt with 4 seconds left, and Williams grabbed the rebound.
HURTING PRINCE: Alexis Prince, who scored a team-best 16 points in a 97-42 WNIT quarterfinal win over Southern Miss on Monday, will miss 8-12 weeks following arthroscopic surgery after a tear in her lateral meniscus and some cartilage damage during practice Wednesday. That is much longer than the 2-4 weeks she had initially been expected to be out. ''If we get to 8-12 weeks and she can help us, she wants to play. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it,'' Mulkey said.
South Florida: Alisia Jenkins grabbed 14 rebounds to give her 1,007 career rebounds. In the Bulls' 71-58 win over Drexel on Sunday, the 6-1 senior had 21 rebounds, which tied her career high. She is 70 away from South Florida's career rebound record of 1,077, which is held by Wanda Guyton.
Baylor: The Lady Bears are playing in the preseason WNIT championship game for the third time in hits four appearances in the event. … Baylor has won 155 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents, dating back to a WNIT finals loss to Auburn on April 4, 2003.
MULKEY MUSING: ''I kind of like those 50-, 60-point blowouts myself. You see that gray hair up there? Look, we're going to have a lot of them until we can get some people well. But we're going to win a lot of them, too,'' Mulkey said.
South Florida: Host Butler on Wednesday night.
Baylor: Home against DePaul for the WNIT championship game Sunday.